Tunnelpalooza in L.A., congestion pricing in NYC: HWR, Dec. 19

Elon Musk and The Boring Co. held their long-awaited event last night in Hawthorne to show the public their 1.14-mile test tunnel. Key graphs from the LAT:

The company previously said its planned urban transportation network, called the Loop, would whisk cars and pods through multiple levels of tunnels on autonomous, electric platforms called skates.

But Musk told reporters that Boring officials have abandoned the concept of the skate, saying it was “far more complex” than his new plan: guide wheels that can be attached to the front tires of autonomous, electric cars, steadying the vehicles as they move forward through tunnels.

The company modeled that idea on Tuesday, attaching horizontal wheels to the Model X’s front wheels.

FWIW, I think it’s an interesting idea, albeit one that I think will likely be geared more toward private cars if the Loop comes to pass. If the Boring Co. has the funds, it could theoretically build a private network of tunnels that could, in theory, pull a fraction of traffic off surface streets. The company has also said it will build private tunnels between the Red Line and Dodger Stadium.

How much? Well it’s worth mentioning that a freeway lane can carry about 2,000 cars (maybe a little more or less, depending on different calculations) per lane per hour. So a single lane tunnel for private cars isn’t likely to carry an entire freeway load of cars. Although 2,000 cars per hour is nothing to sneeze at, either.

Some interesting discussion below. FWIW, I’m fairly open-minded about the whole thing. My big thing is that I don’t think this should be seen as a substitute for high capacity transit, which I think is needed today and will be in the future — well until the flying car fleet is ready to launch 🙂

There are many tons of tweets — see here — on the subject. And not all of them are 100 percent accurate 🙂


A new report in New York — by state officials and transit experts — finds that fixing the New York subway could cost $60 billion. One way to raise that money, the report recommends: congestion pricing, i.e. charging all motorists a toll to use busy roads.

Related: a NYT feature relying on rider pics and headlined “Your Tales of Subway Hell.”

Avoiding a similar fate (and the accompanying headlines) is why the Measure M sales tax here includes a dedicated portion for State of Good Repair projects. And it’s why we’re shutting down rail service on segments of the Blue Line next year.


Things to listen to whilst transiting/driving: Good Fresh Air the other day on driver-less cars and their pros and cons.


There were a pair of incidents this morning being reported by local media — one at the Red Line’s Pershing Square Station and the other at street level at 5th and Flower. Here is Metro’s statement:

Metro Red Line Pershing Square Station Incident
There were two incidents this morning in downtown Los Angeles at the Metro Red Line’s Pershing Square Station and nearby at 5th and Flower Street.
At Pershing Square, a male suspect pushed a male patron from the platform onto the tracks. The patron was able to get back onto the platform and was not injured.
At 5th and Flower, a Regional Connector construction worker was attacked by a male suspect and knocked to the ground. Pedestrians called 911. LAFD transported the male suspect to a nearby hospital where he later died.
The LAPD is now investigating both incidents and whether they are related. Service on the Red Line was not impacted. The incident at 5th and Flower was not inside the Regional Connector construction site.
The safety and security of Metro riders has been and will continue to be our first priority. Metro and our law enforcement partners strive every day to provide a safe environment across the entire system and Metro’s facilities. Metro urges riders to report any threats to public safety on the Metro system by calling 888-950-SAFE, using the TransitWatch app or phoning 911 in the event of an emergency.


Categories: Policy & Funding, Projects

4 replies

  1. Maybe, just maybe, Metro should focus on security first. Things like providing showers at stations for the homeless (a disproportionate number have some form of mental illness) are not good ideas (https://la.curbed.com/2018/4/25/17281658/metro-showers-stations-homeless-trains). Yes, we need to house the homeless and provide services to them. No, it should not be at rail stations–it should be at other county/city facilities. Unfortunately Metro has attracted quite a few mentally unstable/homeless individuals and this makes the system unsafe for riders on occasion–the solution is getting those people to the right facility where they can receive the proper care, not turning Metro stations into a de-facto homeless shelter.

  2. The red line seems to be getting less safe even with more cops patrolling. Big jump in the homeless on trains and platforms. I don’t blame them for taking refuge down there, but lately they’ve gotten more aggressive in temperament and at times have terrible hygiene and sleep over two seats. Lots of loud music on trains and people bringing their dogs onboard. Not service dogs mind you. It wasnt like this 5 years ago. It was rare that you experienced truly bad behavior on the trains. Now its rare that you don’t have someone disrupting and disrespecting other riders. Metro really needs to do more about security

    I am having a hard time seeing anything innovative with Elon Musks tunnels. This looks like a luxury option for wealthy motorists who can pay for the privilege to use this tunnel and not a real solution or alternative to our transnsit needs. I don’t trust the guy, he seems very elitist.

  3. If Musk makes tunnel boring cheaper for us, then I think it will be a great contribution. I’m just wondering what will happen if a car gets a flat tire or breaks down mid-trip. If there is no way around it in the tunnel, then it will create an even bigger problem than the congestion on our roads. I do welcome new ideas though and look forward to see what Musk comes up with in the future as long as it really helps relieve congestion. I don’t understand why he doesn’t just stick to the original Hyperloop idea. If the Hyperloop moves people quickly, those people may opt to use the loop in leu of their cars which can have a dent on traffic. There are plenty of dream lines that are wanted but unfunded, why not help fill those gaps? 🙂

  4. I have seen an increase in aggressive behavior on Metro, from simple anti-social incidents like peeing off the platform or on a moving train, to more concerning incidents like the guy who unleashed a tirade of curses and threats to everybody on my packed train. I’ve given up reporting these incidents, because when I have, the response has been so slow that the person easily gets away.